Student Spotlight

Unity College Nova Trips Prepare Students for Environmental Stewardship

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Entering Unity College students are enrolled in the Unity Experience class that stresses the College’s values including community engagement and environmental responsibility. The Unity Experience class starts with Nova, an adventure-based orientation trip that takes place at the end of summer, even before classes begin.

One group from the incoming class of 2017 visited Sears Island this week as part of their Nova trip and helped with clearing trails so that other visitors to the island could more easily enjoy the many pathways that wander around. The students were from many different states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, as well as Maine. As part of their choice to come to Unity College, these students already know that they are responsible for taking care of the planet, and that the emphasis on sustainability will be an inherent part of their college curriculum.

Clippers, pruners and saws in hand, the group seemed perfectly comfortable clearing the paths, knowing how much to cut, where to cut and how to make sure that the brush was cleared but not decimated. The students had an obvious interest in the beauty around them, a respect for their environment, and seemed to have the mindset of understanding that their interactions with the planet carry with them an enormous responsibility. The trip to Sears Island served to solidify the students' commitment to the protection of both the natural and social worlds, their commitment to environmental leadership, and their commitment to living and working sustainably.

The group was led by two volunteers from the Friends of Sears Island (FOSI), an organization dedicated to protecting the natural and cultural resources of the island and maintaining public accessibility for recreation and education.

Nova trips are small group adventure-based experiences led by well-trained leaders who are Unity College students themselves and enjoy the opportunity to serve members of the incoming class. The trips expose students to exciting activities, community-building, and service projects that give them a chance to give back to the outdoor places that they will be exploring throughout their time as students at Unity and most likely beyond graduation.

By participating in the Nova adventure-based orientation trip even before classes start, students are able to make the transition to college in a truly unique way. They begin building social connections and gain immense personal growth while promoting environmental stewardship. They start to understand the importance of becoming full participants in the Unity College community as well as in the broader community.

Students describe their Nova trip, the beginning of their Unity College adventure, as one of the best experiences they have ever had.

About Friends of Sears Island
The mission of the Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) is to support permanent protection of Sears Island's environmental and cultural resources; preserve its marine, shore land, and forest ecosystems; and encourage educational and low impact recreational uses of the island. FOSI works in partnership with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in maintaining the Conservation Easement that was placed on 601 acres of Sears Island in 2009.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013